Floor Sweepings and Other Shameful Dog Food Ingredients — Oh My!


In case you haven’t read one lately, dog food ingredient lists can be downright ghastly.Shocked by Grain By-Products in Dog Food

Yet these same disturbing lists still represent the only way to catch a glimpse of what’s really inside a product.

Since most of my research had so far been focused on meat protein, I recently decided it was time to take a closer look at the cereal grain side of dog food processing.

And besides, I was really looking forward to taking a break from the grisly subject of meat, and learning more about what I’d imagined to be “wholesome” grains.

Yet nothing had prepared me for the truly disgraceful ingredients I’d actually encounter.

Nutritious Grains?
Or Agricultural Rejects?

It seems some of the cereal grain items found on a list of dog food ingredients are nothing more than by-products — leftovers from the human food industry.

It’s this dreadful stuff that’s officially classified as “unfit for human consumption” — yet still legal for use in commercial dog food.

Take, for example, wheat middlings, a manufacturing by-product also known as wheat mill run.

According to the pet food industry…

Middlings are “fine particles of wheat bran, wheat shorts, wheat germ, wheat flour, and some of the offal [waste] from the tail of the mill”1

Grain industry insiders affectionately refer to this cheap and inferior waste product as “floor sweepings”. And even though this rejected material is of questionable nutritional value — it’s still used to make dog food.

Dog Food Ingredient?
Or Manufacturing Waste?

Then, there’s that mysterious ingredient known as “cereal food fines”?  Ever seen this one on a product label before?

Cereal fines are “particles of breakfast cereals obtained as a by-product of their processing”2

Cereal fines is simply manufacturing debris. And since the precise origin of the “parent” cereal is typically unknown, this low quality waste is frequently loaded with unidentified processing residue.

Basically, cereal fines are lower quality ingredients that have been excluded from use in the human food industry.

But once again — they’re completely legal for making dog food.

Here’s a partial list of some of the more common, inferior quality grain by-products used to make dog food…

  • Peanut hulls
  • Corn cobs
  • Oat hulls
  • Rice hulls
  • Soybean hulls
  • Cottonseed hulls
  • Brewer’s rice
  • Almond shells
  • Grain fragments
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Fermentation waste

When Cheap Grains Aren’t Cheap Enough

Now, obviously, companies that use materials like these are simply focused on profits — on saving money. 

Not on making quality dog food.

With wholesome grains so readily available and priced so low, why must dog food companies opt to use such low quality by-products? Just to save a few pennies?

Thank goodness there are still some responsible companies out there who resist the temptation to choose profit first — over the health of our beloved pets.


  1. Official Publication, Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition, Section 93.5, p. 359
  2. Official Publication, Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition, Section 60.14, p. 324
  • CheshireSlim

    Sorry but wheat midds are not “floor sweepings”. You people that buy into these horse$h!t claims are nothing more than sheeple easily swayed to believe anything you read. I worked in a flour mill for 15 years. “Grain industry insiders” do not refer to midds as floor sweepings. For an easy reference Google the term yourself, wheat middlings floor sweepings, the only sites that mention these words together are from so called animal nutrition know-it-alls. Red dog, bran, shorts and germ are parts of the wheat kernel that are sent to wheat middlings. By labeling something as floor sweepings they are doing nothing more than associating it to something no greater than trash. When in reality the wheat midds are most nutrionally dense part of the wheat kernel. Do real research on your own people, there is no reason to be so blind with a world of information at your fingertips.

  • John_Eppstein

    Extra Protein!

  • mahoraner niall

    im fine feeding a food with these as long as its one of the less-ingredients, (like the 9th, or 10th ingredient)

  • Suzy Southcotte

    I like freshpet. My dogs do well on it. I switch back and forth from time to time between the chicken and the beef varieties.

  • Gayle Ramirez

    at that age leave him on what he eats. You can do more harm than good when a dog is 15 and used to the same food if you switch.

  • Fran Peters

    I have been feeding my 15 yr., old Pappillon mix Natural Balance wet and dry food I mix together, can you suggest a better food for her?

  • Jessica

    I bought a new bag of Purina One dog food and it had maggots in it. Purina can suck it!

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  • Andyrcooper

     You can’t seriously think all of these GENETIC issues could be caused by feeding Sportmix?

  • Mike P

    John you sound like a great dog dad and your pooch loves you for it.Some may say the dog is spoiled but I think the dog is loved.Keep reading and learning as that is what I am trying to do.This stuff on food can get really confusing.The way I see it is as long as we feed quality it can only be good.I hated those vet bills and like you would rather put the money in a good food.Peace 

  • John

    Mike P…

    Not really, I do feed chicken or other lean meats, (trimmings) boiled in water, then mixed in the with the water into the dry. Or a can of BB wilderness wet. trouble is the dog is so spoiled now. I fed him purina at first and it made him sick, so now I’ll feed him the best ,regardless of cost. The vet bills were more than the food anyway. I’ll look into rotation, I learned a lot of things on this site, that really surprised me.

  • Mike P

    John are you a rotational feeder or do you roll with the same food? My dog did great on Brothers but had very hard poop.I agree with getting rid of the potato.

  • John

    HI Mike…

    Yes. I’ve been feeding blue wilderness puppy. I’m gonna change to brothers complete, when the bag is done. My dog is doing great, but I think he will do even better ,minis the potatoes. Good luck.

  • Mike P

    John thanks for the info.I think I’ll stay away from the K3 stuff.I got a bag of the NV instinct chicken and will start that when the Wilderness duck is done.What do you feed?Are you a grain free feeder?

  • John

    Mike P…

    I was not happy with fosters and smith, because I found out that k3 (toxic vitamin k) is in it. (the dry). It costs a lot to, 40$ per 25#s. Also low protein. If you still want it, they have a catalog, or go online . You cant buy it in stores.

  • Mike P

    Sorry as I was saying,Mike S gave Dr Foster and Smith a great review.Maybe it’s a good thing that there are no comments as everyone that feeds it are happy.I wouldn’t mind trying it out for my dog if I knew where to get it.How much a can does it cost?

  • Mike P

    This is about floor sweepings(above) colliegirl1.Mike S gave

  • colliegirl1

    this review is on Dr. Foster and Smith and yet no comments are here about this food. Quite disappointing. If some of these folks want to carry on a conversation why not go to chat or blog?  this is a comment area for the dog food reviewed above. Does anyone have anything to say about their dogs health while on Drs. Foster and Smith?  Thanks.

  • Fred

    Brewers rice are small pieces of rice that are removed in the milling process. They are not nutrionaly worthless. If rice is a good ingredient, then brewers rice is good too.

  • Hi Teresa… The FDA publishes instructions for consumers to report adverse reactions to any FDA-regulated products. Hope this helps.

  • Teresa Stahl

    Also, do you know where an individual might be able to pay to get their dog food analyzed?

  • Teresa Stahl

    Hello. Can you tell me where a consumer reports an issue with a dog food? A friend and I have been feeding Sportsmix Premium Adult Mini Chunk 26/18 since March 2011. I personally have a female I bought in March that was on a raw died when she came to me. She is 5 yrs old. her teeth were perfect. She has lost so many teeth in the last 6 months. I have had one litter produce a puppy with deformed back legs (he died at birth, I have photos). I had another litter with a cleft palate puppy, another puppy after a few days just quit nursing and a third may have hydro (that is 3 out of 4 puppies). I have another litter that one puppy was born with a cleft palate (2 puppies, 2 separate litters) and another puppy has a cherry eye (which I found online could be a lack of nutrition causing a weakening in that area. I have never had any of these issues in the 7 years I have been breeding. I have another friend that I talked into feeding Sportmix and she has had two litters that one had 2 hydro puppies out of 4 and another litter had 4 hydro puppies out of 4. Neither one of us have had these problems before. The female of my friends that had 4 out of 4 hydro puppies it was a repeat breeding where the first litter had 4 puppies with no problems at all! We want to report this to the right agency. Please help! Thank you, Teresa 🙁

  • Chris Valley

    I pay $9 for a 6 LB bag of Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul. Their canned is also reasonably priced. I think that’s pretty affordable for a 4 star food. Also, I have found that the Solid Gold canned food is just over a dollar for a 13.2 ounce can, again, 4 stars.

  • Adam Clive

    i agree ron that wellness maybe the best kible ingredients but kible cant beat raw period!

  • Mike P

    Thanks Ron Wellnees it is ! That was easy

  • ron

    To the people looking for a quality dog food with a low price THERE IS NONE, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR PERIOD. If you want a great kibble for your pooch, BUY WELLNESS IT’S THE BEST PERIOD! Forget what your vet tech says AND READ THE LABEL,DONT BUY A FOOD WITH ANY MEAT BY PRODUCT.

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  • Hi Jeremy… Just posted a review of Life 4K9 which is one of their products. Planning to publish another report about one of their products within the next week or so. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Jeremy

    I would like to see some reviews on Hi-Tek Rations dry dog foods. Including Intimidator and naturals product lines.

  • Daun

    My vet has finally given in & stated that he knows nothing about dog food other than what he has been told. He will just give me what recommendations he feels is appropriate for the fat/protien/etc & then I will find something I am comfortable with. I generally use a grain free food from Champion Pet Foods (Acana, Orijens), The Honest Kitchen and/or Sojos. We do a bit of kibble, homecooking & raw. It’s what works for us. This is one of my fav sites, and I recommend it frequently as an educational tool. Thanks!

  • Meagan

    Would the companies that approve to put this garbage into dog foods want to feed it to their pets. DOUBTFUL!

  • Jonathan

    Jackie, the only by-product in 4health is brewer’s rice and it’s only the 5th ingredient. Here is the ingredients up to the fat…

    “Chicken, chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, millet, brewers rice, chicken fat”

    That’s not bad. Plus, the food contains no nasty chemical additives or any generic meat by-product meals. I wouldn’t get hung up on the small amount of brewer’s rice in their food.

  • jackie

    Oh……great. I just bought the 4health and read cereal-by products. Just waisted my $. Thanks a lot company. Just lost a valuable customer and my dogs. Ok back to the Oganix dog food. Anyone have any complaints about it?
    I love feed back and reviews. I’m glad I rwad the reviews ans thanking
    Everyone for being honest. Holistic food is the best way to go and yet
    Expensive cuz they have to use “organic” food. NOT BY-products or “MEAL”. Please read the fine line. Blue Seals products have recall just a few
    Months ago. I don’t go near their brand names and so is Nutro. Lots of
    Dog food have chemicals including the vets doog food that they sell at their
    Office. Its about experimenting and making money on YOUR PETS.
    Thank you for taking the time to read and please listen to your
    Pets. Thank you. Jackie

  • Hi Terry… Congratulations on your new dog. Can’t help you on price. But our site is loaded with great dog foods. Other than the star ratings themselves, I cannot provide customized product recommendations. Please check our FAQ page and our reviews for more information. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers.

  • Terry

    I am a new owner of a terrific lively Retriever Setter Cross and have been trying to get some information on what to feed having at the moment bought Lidl dry food and two French Supermarket brands all of which are devoured avidly and she is lively and healthy with a shiny coat. This morning I looked at all the expensive foods and found that most had Cereal as the first ingredient, even the Royal Canine brand at grossly inflated prices. Coupled to the fact that these foods surely have to pass safety checks to be safe for sale. Have any of you sceptics noticed what junk the dogs eat from the ground when out walking and indoors when they are doing the vacuum cleaning on the Kitchen floor, their constitution should not be compared to humans they are much more resilient than we will ever be. I give my new friend raw carrots and cooked beetroot which she loves along with most everything, but not Chocolate of course.

    So can anybody give a good brand of food that is not through the sky cost wise, which is balanced and does it really matter if Cereal is the first ingredient bearing in mind that one of the brands gives 14% for both Cereal and Meat. On the surface the Lidl food seems good value and quality. Thanks in anticipation for any ideas on the subject.

  • I have to agree with Jonthan there. Eukanuba is not a quality food & to my knowledge, still uses fishmeal containing Ethoyquin. There are getting to be more & more quality dog foods on the market now that use fish meal with out Ethoxyquin, which is a carcinogen & was suppose to be taken off the market years ago. Dog food labels do not have to list it as it is added to the fishmeal before the company acquires it from the seller. So a dog food company has to have a trustworthy seller they buy the fish meal from.Vet’s and vet techs are not nutrionalist & have not a clue about reading ingredients in dog foods. Vet’s still insist that Science diet is a wonderful nutrious food for your dog. In it quite the opposite. Try readying the ingredients, then you’ll know.

  • Regan

    Saying that dogs got cancer after eating a certain food is ridiculous. As a vet tech, you should know more about the scientific method!

  • Jonathan

    Lisa-ethoxyquin is not legal in the human food chain because it is a possible cancer causer. Also, Eukanuba (owned by P&G) is not a high quality food. they have spent tons of time and money, much like Hill’s SD, figuring out how to sustain a pet’s life with the cheapest quality ingredients. it’s about making money.

  • Lisa

    Really people!? I am an Eukanuba user! I have to trust the companies that actually have research behind their foods, have proven they are safe and nutritious and have staked their name & reputation on it for MANY years! As a vet tech, I have friends who only feed the so called “best foods”, and they have all had dogs die from cancer! Hip displasia is not caused by ethoxyquin! Youo should know that- US Coast Guard regulations state – All fishmeal must be preserved with ethoxyquin!!!

  • Louise

    I Think that the man that feed his dogs Eukanua better do some reading up as it contains a drug called Ethoxyquin and we have had dia conceqences for our dog who had hip displacment symptoms but it was the Eukanuba food we had been feeding for a few years. We treated her for the hip displacement not knowing that it was the dog food, that was effecting the nerves in the spine. PLEASE DO SOME RESEARCH ON THIS ( ETHOXYQUIN)

  • dean

    it makes me mad to read this junk. my wife is already to make our pets food doesn’t trust any food we used timber wolf had big problems from that food went to eukanuba. it is better than timber wolf our pets were really getting sick and we are just beyond words we do not trust anything we use. and are affraid to change. so we think that we will just make our own food .our pets are getting better now after being off timber wolf it took about 1 year for things to turn around. timber wolf was the only food given that is how we know it was the food used. and now eukanuba is the only food used and their coats are shiny again and they don’t act sick the vet said it was the timber wolf also.